How to Have – And Sustain Fitness Success

There are all kinds of myths out there about becoming fit and maintaining it for life…

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How Halloween Can Add Two Pounds of Fat to The Average Person (How to Avoid Fat Gain on Halloween)

Orange plastic halloween bucket filled and overflowing with candy

Halloween is here! Time to dress up, eat some candy, have some drinks with your friends and PARTY! Here’s the only issue: a lot of us have fitness goals we’re trying to reach or we’re trying to maintain the progress we have already began to make. Halloween is the first on the list of holidays that can creep up on us and lead to unwanted fat gain. How? Well, if you’re having drinks and eating candy (or high calorie processed food in general) that alcohol temporarily shuts down food metabolism because your body views it as a foreign invader. When this happens, the food you’re eating isn’t metabolized, and is stored as body fat. This can lead to gaining fat (2-5 lbs. in some cases) in a relatively short amount of time. Even if you’re not drinking alcohol, if you don’t have an awareness of the amount of candy you’re consuming on Halloween (and the days before and after) you could be setting yourself up for unwanted fat gain. So, what strategies can you take to avoid unwanted fat gain on Halloween?

  1. HAVE A TOUGH WORKOUT

As you all know, I am not a proponent of “beast mode” “no days off” training all of the time. BUT in order to see results from your training, you definitely have to push yourself outside of your comfort zone. And if you want to avoid fat gain, there is no better time to have a challenging training session than on Halloween! Training “hard” means that we will be training in the “glycolytic” pathway… meaning, I’m using all the carbohydrates that are already in my body as fuel. How do you do that? Train with very challenging loads on big movements like squats, deadlifts, presses and rows. You also do some higher repetition work as well. The perfect workout for Halloween would be Day 1 of Strength Basics, my 12-week training eBook.

  1. FIT IN THE CANDY (IN MODERATION)

If you have followed me for a while, read my blogs and listened to Ranges of Motion, you know that I am big on building awareness around nutrition. We do this by tracking our food intake (calories). More specifically, tracking macronutrients to ensure that we are hitting our protein, carbohydrate and fat intake daily. The two most important things to pay attention to on Halloween and the days before and after are going to be total calories, protein and fiber intake. If you want to stay on track for your fat loss goals, eating enough protein and fiber is going to be essential. These will help you to stay fuller longer and will help you recover from the hard training session you’re doing. From there, it’s all about fitting the candy into your remaining calorie intake (fat and carbs) and not going overboard. This is why I’m a big proponent of flexibility with nutrition and being able to have the freedom to plug and pull things that you enjoy into your diet in moderation.

  1. NO TRACKING, NO PROBLEM

If you’re someone who has never tracked macronutrients, or you’re not sure where to start, you can still make it through Halloween without gaining fat. There are a couple simple strategies you can implement from a nutritional perspective. Instead of eating throughout the day, take this simple approach: DON’T. Fast throughout the day, have a pre-workout meal that consists of protein/veggies and then have some candy as your post workout carb source. Really, it’s this simple. Throughout the day don’t eat tons of carbs/fat (if any at all), because you’re going to be eating a sufficient amount in just a little bit of candy. Remember, these are very calorically dense palatable foods. It is still a good idea to eat these in moderation for overall health. This is a sufficient plan for ONE HOLIDAY! This does not give you the green light to eat like this on a daily basis. Eating like this consistently can lead to a whole host of issues including food relationship issues, hormonal disfunction, poor gut health and much more. The quality of carbs and fats found in candy are sub-par. Should you never eat candy? No. Should you stress about not being able to be social on Halloween? Absolutely not. But you should build awareness around your nutrition in some way shape or form that fits your lifestyle. If you want to learn more about how I can help you do that, click here. This is key for eliminating poor food relationship, anxiousness around food and crazy cravings.

Let this Halloween be FUN and filled with laughs, candy and drinks! Don’t let your “diet” ruin your social life! If you struggle with dieting, want to learn more about nutrition for your goals and figure out how to create a plan to fit your lifestyle, click here or shoot me an email or DM on Instagramor Facebook! I’d love to help!

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The Ultimate Lean Body Blueprint: Part II

We have part one of The Ultimate Lean Body Blueprint complete. In it, we talked about evaluating your lifestyle, mindset and what your training should look like. If you haven’t read Part I, STOPwhere you are now and go read it. In this addition were going to dive into nutrition, sleep & recovery and supplements you should consider when your goal is obtaining a lean and healthy body.

Nutritional Strategies

There is one big issue when it comes to nutrition and getting to a leaner physique: fad diets. Although this may work in the short term (weight loss vs. fat loss) they will be inferior in the long term and lead to a reduction in metabolic rate and excessive fat regain. Cutting out whole food groups and suffering day in and day out is not the best way to approach nutrition when you’re trying to get to a leaner healthier body composition. Instead, you should think more long term. If you’re currently following an extreme “diet” to lose weight that you can’t see yourself following for the rest of your life, you should reconsider what you’re doing. You could be causing damage that can take years to recover from. With the chronic stress of daily life, what you have to also realize is being in a large calorie deficit for too long can also become VERY stressful to your body’s system. So where do you start?

Building Awareness Through Tracking (Why Flexibility Is Key)

The first place we have to start with any nutritional protocol is building awareness. This is done by tracking what you are consuming on a daily basis. This can be done by simply writing down everything you’re eating on a daily basis or using a tracking app like MyFitnessPal. From here we can see what kinds of foods your leaning to and whether you’re eating the correct number of calories, the correct types of food (quality of food) and the correct amount of each macronutrient to support your goals. Accountability is huge here so if you need some help along the way, click here. The first thing we must address is protein intake. If you want to get to a leaner physique, the biggest macronutrient that has to be addressed is protein. Protein helps keep you satiated and will help you gain/maintain muscle mass. Carbohydrates and fats can be completely dependent on the person and their preferences… for the most part. Everyone should be consuming at least 20-25% of their daily calories from fats to ensure proper hormonal health. Another note on fats is that fats are very calorically dense, meaning you can a bit carried away with the almonds and coconut oil. The biggest thing we have to concern ourselves with when trying to obtain a lean body is being in a caloric deficit MOST of the time. This is also dependent on your metabolism and your current health. Again, this is where coaching and monitoring biofeedback comes into play because we don’t want to be in a caloric deficit for too long. Diet breaks are key for optimal hormonal health. For most everyone I work with (if they have a healthy metabolism) we will not stay in a caloric defect for more than 12-16 weeks. Not only do things like diet breaks and re-feeds help with hormones, they also help with adherence long term. But there’s more to adherence than that. Remember when I told you the first step is building awareness? Well, this awareness we have built allows us to have “flexibility” in our diet. Meaning, if we can fit foods into our macros (this works just like a budget) daily/weekly you don’t have to stress about them harming your results. This is the biggest key for long term results… ADHERENCE AND SUSTAINABILITY! If you allow flexibility in the diet, you set yourself up for success LONG TERM! This also helps you to develop a better relationship with food because you finally understand just how much food you’re consuming and what exactly is in those foods. When you start connecting the dots with how certain foods impact your biofeedback, you tend to crave and lean more towards more nutrient dense foods MOST of the time. Again, I’m a big believer in the 80/20 rule… if you’re not there yet that’s ok. But making small changes from the start can be super powerful and add up to big wins over time from having a healthier gut, more optimized hormones, better energy, more quality sleep and more!

ben 2

The Importance of Sleep & Recovery

The number one thing people are lacking when it comes to recovery is proper sleep. Couple things I see:

  1. Being “wired and tired” from too much stress and caffeine consumption
  2. No emphasis put on sleep whatsoever… #TeamNoSleep

Well I’m here to tell you that the #TeamNoSleep basically means #TeamNoProgress. If you aren’t sleeping 7-9 hours nightly, you aren’t recovering from your day. Period. Less than five hours of cuts testosterone in half. This means you will not be able to build the muscle needed to have the lean physique you are looking for. More muscle = more calories burned at rest = more fat loss. Also, growth hormone (one of the main hormones that promotes recovery for every part of your body) is produced when you sleep. Your memory and mood are also dramatically correlated with quality and quantity of sleep. If you’re drinking endless amounts of caffeine during your day to stay awake, you’re doing yourself a major disservice. This can cause countless issues with nervous/hormonal system function and leave you with that “tired and wired” feeling where you can’t fall asleep. Another issue I see many times with clients is lack of water intake. You should be drinking water throughout your day, and probably more than you’re drinking now. This keeps your body hydrated and helps you to think more clearly, have more energy, digest food and keep joints lubricated. The “beast mode” “no days off” mentality just doesn’t work long term. You should be sleeping. You should be doing twice as much parasympathetic as sympathetic work. Things like walking, meditating, being with loved ones, using adaptogens ashwagandha or certain mushrooms, belly breathing, hot/cold contrast and the list goes on. Bottom line is this: if you want to have a lean body for life, you have to de-stress. This can be hard to understand for many type A individuals (myself included at times) but stress is stress. No matter whether its physically demanding training sessions, or stress in work/home life it’s all going to impact your body in some way. And with too much stress without any relaxation leads to anxiety and inability to lose fat and gain muscle.

Supplements To Consider

There is a reason this is last! Supplements are not going to make or break your lean body results. How you train, how you eat and how you recover are the biggest things that need to be taken care of. With that being said, supplements can also help! The supplements you’re taking need to be of high quality. Don’t cheap out on what you are putting in your body. The first supplement I’d recommend is whey (or plant based if you can’t do dairy) protein. Again, this should be a protein powder that isn’t filled with artificial sweeteners and ingredients. This will help you hit your daily protein goal, and if you’re a bigger guy/gal, having 25-40g of protein from a powder daily can be a big help. The next supplement I’d recommend is fish oil. Most people have diets high in omega-6, which is very inflammatory. Omega-3 (fish oil) on the other hand is anti-inflammatory. So, if you don’t eat high quality fatty fish daily, supplement with fish oil. Vitamin D is another key micronutrient that most people are deficient in. 5,000 IU’s daily will have you covered. These are the three mandatory supplements I’d recommend to anyone who is setting out on their lean body journey! These are not magic supplements. Rather, things that will help you have better overall health. There are other things I use and also recommend to people, but this varies from person to person.

This concludes The Ultimate Lean Body Blueprint! If you have questions about anything I’ve talked about in Part I or II, you can shoot me an email btracke@gmail.comand if you’re interested in individualized coaching with me, fill out this application!

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The Top 3 Supplements You DON’T Need

Supplement-Image

The fitness and supplement industry want you to believe that you NEED supplements in order to achieve the results you want. Whether it be muscle building, fat loss or wellness people have bought into the supplement hype. So much so that it has become a billion-dollar industry. This blog is not to tell you that you shouldn’t take supplements or that there aren’t good supplements out there. This is to inform you on the supplements you’re taking that could potentially harm your progress and health, and let you know what you SHOULD be doing instead.

1. Pre-Workout Supplements

The most popular supplement on the market is pre-workout. Why you might ask? Pre-workout drinks and powders are addicting. They’re loaded with stimulants and make you feel very good in the short term. The problem is that most of the performance benefits you get from pre-workout comes from caffeine. All of the other added ingredients are not giving you much benefit, if any at all. Pre-workouts are typically pretty expensive, and you can get the same benefits from drinking a coffee before your workout. The other issue is that after using these stimulants over and over again, you can have a negative impact on your body. You will start to feel dependent on these ingredients in order to have a “good” workout.

What to do instead:

A. Drink a coffee (if you don’t like coffee, drink tea or buy caffeine pills) before you train if you want the added benefits of caffeine. I recommend having days where you have coffee, and some days when you don’t. Just like anything, your body will get used to having caffeine every single day and if you don’t take a break, you’ll need more and more to get benefit from it. I’ll typically have coffee in the morning, and before my workout. When I start to feel that I need more to get benefit, I’ll take a few days off from any caffeine. Then when I reintroduce caffeine a few days later, I feel its benefits even more so than before.

B. Invest/create some kind of “warm up” or something to get your body ready for the work it is about to do. If you’re going into the gym and jumping right into your routine without sending proper signals to your body before exercise, your odds of injury increase significantly. I know because I did this for quite some time, and am paying for it now. If it takes you 10 warm up sets before getting into your working sets on a specific exercise, you’re not taking the necessary steps to prime your body for exercise.

2. Branch Chain Amino Acid Supplements (BCAA’s)

This is another popular supplement on the market. The idea is that you drink them before workouts or throughout the day and your body will stay in a more “anabolic” state so you can gain the muscle and lose the fat you desire. This is not true and there has been research to back this up. Meal timing and frequency (and drinking BCAA powders) have little to do with gaining muscle, losing fat or just overall health. It comes down to personal preference and consistent adherence to eating for the desired outcome. As long as you’re consistently getting the protein your body needs, you are not going to see any significant gains from BCAA’s.

What to do instead:

A. Focus on drinking plenty of water. The idea of BCAA’s a lot of people like is that they taste good so they can drink more water. The problem is that most of them are flavored with sucralose and have dyes that can negatively impact your gut health, preventing muscle gain and fat loss over time.

B. Invest in healthy foods. Eat a variety of different vegetables and complete protein sources. You can also use a good whey or plant based protein powder that is sweetened with stevia and/or monk fruit if you struggle getting enough protein in per day. Instead of wasting big money on a BCAA supplement, take that money and buy good protein sources so you can hit that .7-.8g per pound of body weight per day.

3. Fat Burners

Fat burners are marketed as something that are somewhat of a “magic pill” to heat up your bodies core temperature and give you more energy. They are similar to pre-workout in that they have many stimulants and are full of caffeine. Although caffeine has been shown to help performance, many of the other ingredients in fat burners are not proven ingredients and can actually have some negative side effects.

What to do instead:

Bottom line, fat loss is going to come down to proper sleep, good exercise programming (not overtraining), and eating in a calorie deficit over time. There aren’t any fat burner pills that you are going to notice the real change you’ll notice by taking care of sleep, exercise and what you eat.

References:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4213371/

https://www.wm.edu/offices/sportsmedicine/_documents/sleep-manual

https://www.mindpumpmedia.com/blog/the-meal-frequency-myth

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The Macro Craze

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RSS Ranges of Motion Podcast
  • Ep. 53 Caroline Ofenstein
    Caroline is a certified nutrition coach, CrossFit L1, and personal trainer. She is the author of the Performance Nutrition Manual and specializes in helping athletes, as well as a variety of individuals, reach their peak health & fitness. She coaches clients through individualized training and nutrition programs at Boom Boom Performance, where she and the […]
  • Ep. 52 Q&A - What Beginners Should Do In The Gym, Supporting Friends And Newbie's w/ Training And Nutrition, IG Fitness Quacks & MORE
    Today I answered: What should beginners do at the gym? What are other things I can do to start a health journey or lifestyle besides tracking nutrition & exercise? How can I be supportive to a friend who's dieting all the time? What are ways I can be supportive to new people at the gym? […]
  • Ep. 51 Easy Wins Mitch BACK AGAIN - Savage Oats, Making Fitness A Lifestyle & MORE!
    Awesome conversation with my good friend Mitch Harb aka "EasyWinsMitch"!    Check out all his content on Instagram and go try Savage Oats!    "Strength Basics" - My First Downloadable 12-Week Training eBook - Check It Out HERE   To apply for coaching with Ben Racke Fitness, visit https://benrackefitness.wufoo.com/forms/r1dvzpxw1jfz1g8/   To get 15% off your […]
  • Ep. 50 Jimmy Hallinan
    Jimmy Hallinan is a full-time high school health and physical education teacher with a BS in exercise science and MS in exercise science and sport nutrition. He's a father and husband who emphasizes the importance of healthy living through nutrition and exercise. Jimmy also has his own nutrition coaching business.    And he has dope […]
  • Ep. 49 Adriaan Zimmerman
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